Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Update on War in Gaza; Ebola Fears; Egypt Proposes New 3-Day Cease-Fire; Palestinians Agree to 3-Day Cease-Fire
Aired August 4, 2014 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are live from Jerusalem, as violence terrorizes this holy city and word of another cease-fire brings new hope.
I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.
The world lead, a city bus on its side and bullets flying in the streets, Israel blaming terrorists for a deadly day in Jerusalem, as the war on the Gaza border spills over.
Another cease-fire that's short on the whole ceasing to fire thing. Palestinians accusing Israel of breaking their own truce in minutes with an attack that killed another innocent child, while Palestinian rockets and mortars continue to cause Israelis to take cover.
Also in world news, he called his wife to say goodbye. Then an American who received a dose of an experimental drug to treat the Ebola virus saw the symptoms almost completely disappear. Did a secret serum just stop an incurable illness and a miserable way to die?
Hello, everyone. We're live from Jerusalem, where there is some breaking news. After one temporary cease-fire fell apart today, Egypt is now proposing another three-day truce.
Elise Labott joins from us now the State Department.
Elise, what are you hearing about this proposed 72-hour cease-fire?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I just spoke to a very senior Egyptian official telling me that Egypt has proposed another humanitarian cease-fire for 22 hours to go into effect some time tomorrow morning.
We're talking about a full cessation of hostilities, Jake, and the hope is that that could be extended. As you know, Egyptians were very disappointed that the cease-fire they worked on with the U.S. last week fell apart and that's why the Egyptians are saying they will not hold negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians until the fighting stops.
They're hoping that that 72-hour cease-fire can go into effect tomorrow and then they can bring Palestinian and Israeli delegations together to talk about a more durable truce and they emphasize, Jake, this is very tenuous, but they do have strong indications from Israel and the Palestinians that they're prepared to announce their acceptance after the Egyptians announce it some time tonight, Jake.
TAPPER: And, in fact, we were supposed to have Mark Regev, who is the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the show today and just 10 or so minutes before the show, he had to cancel. We believe it's because this cease-fire proposal is being reviewed and he didn't want to say anything prematurely.
Elise, one thing we do know is that four Palestinian factions, Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, four of them are in Egypt and have been meeting with Egyptian officials. Of course it was Hamas that rejected a Palestinian proposal last week, as well as the Egyptian proposal a few weeks ago. What might have changed this time around?
LABOTT: Well, a couple of things, Jake.
Obviously, there's a lot of blame game going back and forth about who has been to blame, obviously, Israel blaming Hamas along with the international community, but Hamas saying that Israel violated its own truce.
You have to look to Qatar and Turkey who have been playing a very important role trying to convince Hamas and those other Palestinian factions to accept the cease-fire. We don't know yet whether they put intense pressure on the Palestinian factions to accept.
I'm told that the Egyptians were the ones that have really been working this. Obviously, that delegation is there, but I think with the mounting civilian casualties, everyone is getting a little tired, Jake. I think that there's a recognition that it might be time to wrap this up, Jake.
TAPPER: There has been too much loss of innocent life. Elise Labott, great reporting. Keep coming back with us as you learn more.
Reza Sayah is now on the phone from Cairo.
Reza, what are you hearing in Egypt about this new proposed cease- fire?
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we have seen what's happened to previous cease-fires in the fighting, so we want to be extremely careful in what we report here because we're getting slightly different statements from two authoritative sources.
A senior Egyptian government official tells CNN -- and I'm going to quote him here -- that there are strong indications that all parties concerned, that's the Palestinians and the Israelis, have accepted a cease-fire, a 72-hour cease-fire starting 8:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, that's tomorrow,and an Egyptian invitation to send delegations to see Egypt to start talking.
We also spoke to the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, who was part of the talks in Egypt, and he takes it a step further. He says the cease-fire agreement is a done deal, that both sides have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire beginning tomorrow, again, the ambassador saying it's a done deal, the Egyptian source saying there's strong indications that it's going to happen.
We're still working to confirm if this is a done deal, but certainly this is a sign that after 28 days of fighting, the Israelis and the Palestinians are close perhaps, once again, to a cease-fire, or they may have already agreed to it. We're not clear on that yet, the cease-fire again to begin Tuesday, tomorrow, 8:00 a.m. local time and continue for 72 hours, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Reza, just to underscore the point, Hamas has complained in the past about not being included in the discussions when it came to the Palestinian proposal last week, when it came to the Egyptian proposal I think three weeks ago. This time, Hamas is at the table, correct?
SAYAH: Hamas is at the table. And here's a significant difference between this cease-fire and previous cease-fires. Based on our information, this is an unconditional 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire.
That means neither side has to meet any conditions or any demands. Of course, those conditions and demands are what seemingly made the previous cease-fire announced on Friday fall apart. This cease-fire, if it happens, based on our information, it's unconditional. The two sides simply stop fighting without meeting any conditions, and ideally they get to Cairo and they start talking.
TAPPER: All right. Reza Sayah in Cairo, continue to stay on top of the story and come back to us with more information.
Let's go now to former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren in Tel Aviv.
Mr. Oren, good to have you on.
What have you heard and what does the Israeli government need to hear when it comes to this cease-fire proposal?
MICHAEL OREN, CNN MIDEAST ANALYST: Good to be with you, Jake, as always.
Let's unpack what we have just heard, that the Hamas has now sent a delegation to Cairo. It has agreed to an unconditional cease-fire and that this cease-fire will go into effect by tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. What does all that mean? This is basically the same cease-fire that Hamas was offered more than three weeks ago, unconditional in the sense that Hamas has none of its demands met.
Hamas wanted money to pay 40,000 employees. It wanted border crossings opened. It wanted a port into the Mediterranean. It wanted Israel's maritime block -- a very long list of demands. That list has actually lengthened over the weeks. Most recently, they were mentioned -- they were demanding free travel between the West Bank and Gaza.
So none of those conditions have been met. Israel was willing to achieve the cease-fire weeks ago. And then Hamas asked for cease- fires and then broke its own cease-fires. Israeli delegations were sent to Cairo for peace talks. Hamas didn't bother to even send a delegation.
What has now happened is that Hamas has gotten around to sending a delegation and the result has been perhaps a cease-fire that would have been the exact same cease-fire that could have been reached weeks ago without all of the suffering on both sides. So there's a great tragedy in that alone.
And then even then, Hamas has repeatedly violated cease-fires. It violated one again today, 100 rockets fired at Israel today. Two terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Who knows? But Israel stands ready to implement the cease-fire as worked out in Cairo.
TAPPER: So, Michael, why didn't Israel send a delegation to Cairo for this round of talks? I don't even know if Israel was invited, A, and, B, would Israel theoretically be willing to abide by a cease-fire unconditionally?
OREN: Well, the uncondition -- the conditions are all on the Hamas side. It was Hamas who had put all the conditions.
There's only own one condition that Israel had, and that its army, its armed forces could continue to neutralize the tunnels that Hamas had dug under the border to attack Israeli farms and communities. That work has largely been concluded now and Israeli forces are withdrawing from that part of the Gaza Strip, the northern part.
And Palestinian civilians are told that they can now return to those neighborhoods. So that one condition has now -- has been mooted by facts on ground. Hamas still has a long list of conditions that it will have to accept. The fact it's willing to accept the cease-fire unconditionally is an admission of defeat.
TAPPER: All right. Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, thank you so much.
Coming up THE LEAD, more on this breaking news, a proposed cease-fire between Gaza and Israel. Will Hamas accept it? I will ask the Hamas spokesperson ahead. Will Israel accept it?
Plus, a man in New York being tested for Ebola after a trip to West Africa and his symptoms are consistent with the killer disease. We're getting more details. And we will have that breaking news ahead.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're coming to you live from Jerusalem.
And we are monitoring the breaking developments from Cairo, with Egypt now trying to broker a three-day cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians, an official saying the truce would be for -- quote -- "purely humanitarian purposes" -- unquote.
Meantime, the latest flash points in this conflict exploded not just on the tense border between Israel and Gaza and within Gaza itself, but here for the first time. In this holy city for Jews, Muslims and Christians, an earth mover driven by a Palestinian fixed up an empty passenger bus, overturning it into the street, where it killed one man and injured several others.
Israeli police immediately called this an act of terror. And Hamas praised the attack, saying, "This was a natural reaction to the Israeli crimes against our civilians" -- unquote.
Just moments later, another explosion of violence in the streets of Jerusalem, a man on a motorcycle opened fire on an Israeli soldier near the entrance to Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus and then he took off towards a Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem, according to Israeli police. It looks as though this is a new front in this current battle, and it comes after a morning that had promised some measure of peace.
TAPPER (voice-over): The Israeli government had promised a 24-hour cease-fire to allow for humanitarian aid to be delivered into Gaza. But within 20 minutes of the appointed hour, the quiet was gone replaced by explosives, and accusations from both sides.
The Palestinian health ministry claims Israeli strikes shattered the cease-fire, injuring 30 and killing 18 people. Including, a 8-year- old girl at a refugee camp.
The Israelis initially flat-out denied it on CNN.
MARK REGEV, NETANYAHU SPOKESMAN: That's not true. When we give an order to our forces to hold fire they hold fire.
TAPPER: Before reversing course and acknowledging the attack although denying it was a violation of the cease-fire because they claim the operation was under way when the cease-fire began.
Meanwhile, all along the border with Gaza, Israeli sirens sounded today, signaling incoming rockets and mortars from Gaza. And as we made our way south along the border with Gaza, we visited Israeli neighborhoods that have for years been targets for the rockets of Hamas and other extremist groups.
(on camera): The Israeli government called a brief humanitarian cease-fire today to bring in supplies to the people of Gaza but it's still fraught with tension here on the border. People on the Israeli side not knowing when the next rocket or mortar is going to come over from militants in Gaza, people in Gaza not knowing when the cease-fire is going to be dropped and bombing and the ground operations will resume.
(voice-over): Just a few kilometers from Rafah, the site of the condemned shelling of a United Nations school-turned-shelter that killed more than 10 Palestinian civilians, we had coffee with Eyal Brandeis, a university professor who lives at kibbutz Sufa, the short walk between his patio and the barb wire fence that separated him from the Palestinians is literally a war zone. EYAL BRANDEIS, RESIDENT: Two nights, we didn't really sleep.
Yesterday, a mortar fell 100 meters from my house. And today, it is so quiet that we're very, very tense and waiting to see what's going to happen.
TAPPER: Brandeis says he feels bad for the innocent Palestinians being killed by his government and the military for which his son fights but he also sees the security choice today as a stark one.
BRANDEIS: At the moment, it's either them or me. Unfortunately, they are being held hostage by their own regime. OK? I used to say that Israeli people uses the IDF to protect the people. Hamas uses the people to protect the missiles and the Hamas.
TAPPER: As we left this morning before of the outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, Brandeis had been through too many failed cease-fires to exhale.
(on camera): How does it feel? Do you feel relieved or is it just going to start up again? You just don't know the when?
BRANDEIS: Because of our experience and because just in this round, six cease-fires didn't hold up, we're very, very tense. Somewhere inside, we hope it's the beginning of the end but we do not allow ourselves to relax completely because we know he that any second, it could change.
TAPPER (voice-over): On the way back to Jerusalem, it looked as though Brandeis might have reason to hope at the very least the IDF ground campaign in Gaza might be coming to a close. We saw military vehicles seemingly moving away from the boarder.
(on camera): This is obviously still a very heavily militarized area. All day we've seen tanks and armor personnel carriers being driven away from the area of Gaza perhaps part of this pull back that the Israeli government officials have been discussing.
(voice-over): But as we drew closer to Jerusalem and the day wound down, the tensions sparked anew after the two attacks in the city center, police helicopters circled overhead and the Israelis said another two soldiers had been shot near a border crossing.
TAPPER: Continuing with the breaking news about the cease-fire proposal coming from Egypt, the Palestinian factions coming together, we have this statement, Ali Younes, a CNN reporter in Atlanta, just got off the phone with senior political leader Itzak Razack (ph) in Cairo who said, quote, "The Palestinian delegation has come to Cairo and eager to end the war and have a cease-fire and agreed with the Egyptian initiative that considers the Palestinian position." He added, quote, "We are waiting on the Israelis to show up for the talks with the Egyptians about the proposed cease-fire. If Israel does not show up, it means they were never serious about ending this war and it will show their true intentions." We are still, of course, awaiting word from Israel about their reaction to this proposal. We don't even know if they have received the proposal. We were supposed to have an Israeli spokesman, an Israeli government spokesman on the show but 10 minutes before the show he begged off because of this breaking news.
The cease-fire talks are continuing. But we are still, of course, hearing reports of violence, hearing reports of missiles still being fired into Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces.
So, let's go live right now to CNN's Martin Savidge. He's Gaza City.
Martin, tell us what you're seeing.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can still hear the Israeli drones overhead. They've been pretty much a permanent fixture in the sky here ever since this conflict began. We've also heard artillery. Earlier in the evening, we saw flares a few minutes ago.
So, every indication this military operation is going on, on both sides, it was very evident this evening, tonight. We've also seen outgoing rocket fire. We've seen Iron Dome in action.
We've seen just about everything including gunfire on the streets below although it appears to be unrelated to the overall conflict. But it shows you the hazards of Gaza are both big and small.
Regarding this process and this peace process and whether or not we're going to get a cease-fire, by my count now the I believe we're up to maybe nine or ten. It really depends which side you talk to here.
So, there's going to be a great deal of skepticism. Of course, the Israelis have to participate. There's a lot of pressure on them to show up. They have to participate, I'm saying, if they want to make this work. They may not, though, decide to show up. There will be a lot of people watching that. The Israeli cabinet had said just a few days they didn't see a need to participate in any of these talks in Egypt.
However, Egypt has been a strong ally of Israel throughout all of this. They have not been what had been a traditional supporter of Hamas. That all ended with the new President El Sisi. It might be considered a slap against the Egyptian president if Israel just suddenly said you know what, we're coming even though you went to all the trouble to set this up.
And then the other thing to look for will be, Jake, if representatives from Hamas and Islamic jihad from Gaza actually show up at the talks there in Egypt, because up until this point, they have said they wouldn't attend because it's too dangerous for them to come out of hiding and attend those talks.
So, there's a lot of things that still have to lock into place before 8:00 tomorrow morning or before we really see if this is going to come to fruition -- Jake. TAPPER: Now, of course, the devil in the details, of course. I mean,
this is an area of the country. The Israelis and Palestinians can't even agree how to pronounce Hamas.
But let's go back to the Israeli strike on that refugee camp in Gaza City. Have people managed to get out of these refugee camps in time to escape these most recent airstrikes? And has humanitarian aid been allowed in as the Israeli government said was going to happen when we were driving around Gaza today, we saw lots of trucks we assumed bearing humanitarian aid. Did they get in?
SAVIDGE: Well, OK. So, let's take the last part first. We did see humanitarian aid that appeared to be getting in. I saw trucks that appeared to be heavily loaded, they were marked as U.N., and so, they were coming in and they clearly seemed to be delivering aid. We know the blood came in which was vitally needed. We also know that emergency kits were brought in.
And then you know, when it came down to the family level, we saw a lot of people on streets trying to shop and get the basics, including getting money out of the bank and getting their prescriptions refilled, all the things they couldn't do fearing they were under threat.
That said though, you know, there is a huge humanitarian problem that has still got to be resolved. It's water, electricity, sewage, it's health. All of those will still be a problem after whatever cease- fire comes and goes. We hope it will come and it will stay. But that remains to be seen.
The other thing that should be pointed out, you know, what is Israel saying here? Will they still go after their tunnels? Will the drones still be hanging overhead? Will they still be carrying out operations which they are in Rafah, in the southern part of Gaza? That is something that Israel may say look, that's part of the agreement, isn't it? You can see how this thing could fall apart quickly.
TAPPER: All right, Martin Savidge.
And we should note we're getting this news right now that the Palestinians, writ large, the Palestinian leadership has agreed to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. Our understanding is that includes at least four different Palestinian factions, Fatah from the West Bank, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic jihad, and the popular front for the liberation of Palestinian -- all agreeing to the Egyptian proposal including Hamas quite significantly. We're going to continue on that story.
Coming up, she barely escaped death and destruction in Gaza with her life but one Palestinian woman still believes the shelling by Hamas should continue. And she explains why coming up next.
Plus, a patient in New York in isolation showing symptoms of the Ebola virus after travel to West Africa. He's now being tested and we'll have details coming up.